How To Stop Emails Going to Junk Once and for All

How To Stop Emails Going to Junk Once and for All
05 June, 2022 • ... • 1319 views
Irene Dmitrieva
by Irene Dmitrieva

There’s nothing worse than working hard on an email campaign only to have it get caught in a spam filter. We’ve put together a guide to the reasons why emails end up as junk, as well as on how to stop it. Follow these tips and tricks to make sure you did everything you could to stop your emails from going to spam.

Common reasons why your emails go to spam

Email spam is a major problem that can make it difficult to use email for business. Many email services like Gmail and Internet Service Providers (ISPs) have filters that automatically block spam emails. However, these filters can sometimes also block legitimate messages if they have certain characteristics that are common in spam emails. Some of the most common reasons for getting into the spam folder include:

No permission

If you want to avoid having your emails marked as spam, don’t buy lists of email addresses or obtain them through other means without permission. It’s not only unethical, but it is also bad for business. There is no guarantee that the emails you have are valid, and even if they are, the recipients are likely not interested in hearing from you.

Sender’s information is not accurate

The CAN-SPAM Act (a law that establishes the rules for commercial email) requires that senders of commercial emails include accurate information about themselves and their business, as well as a physical address. This is to prevent people from being misled by inaccurate or incomplete information. If you don’t follow these requirements, your emails may end up in spam.

Large images with minimal text

The usage of large images with minimal text can trigger spam filters. This is because spammers sometimes use large images instead of text to avoid being caught by filter programs.

Although many recipients prefer interactive and visual content, you need to be careful about how to design emails to avoid spam folders.

No opt-out link

If your emails don’t have an opt-out link and recipients can’t unsubscribe from your emails in a civilized way, chances are the messages are going straight to spam. Not only is this a surefire way to get your emails marked as spam, but this way, you also fail to consider the email compliance aspects which is against the law in many countries.

Incorrect spelling and grammar

If your emails have a lot of typos and other mistakes, it may look like you’re trying to scam people. That’s because many phishing email scams have a lot of errors on purpose so that they get past spam filters or so that only the most gullible recipients will respond. They might also not be written by native English speakers. If you occasionally make a typo, it’s not a big deal. But if your emails are full of them, it could make spam filters suspicious.

A typical phishing email with mistakes looks like this:

Phishing email example
Source: RareLogic

An example of a non-spam email from a real company is below. There are some minor mistakes that make it look less professional. These mistakes can make recipients think less of the company as a whole.

Spelling mistakes in email

How to avoid emails going to spam

To prevent emails from being caught in spam filters, there are a few things you can do:

Build your own email list and regularly clean it up

Email services penalize senders who use purchased or borrowed lists, so avoid these shortcuts. Scraping email addresses from the web can also lead to your messages getting into spam folders.

Spammers and phishers typically don’t have good records of the email addresses they use. They often steal email addresses from other sources, without caring about whether the addresses are valid or not. This can cause the recipient’s email provider to mark the messages as spam.

To avoid this happening to your own emails, build your own lists of people who have explicitly agreed to receive emails from you (known as double opt-in).

When you use double opt-in for sign-ups, potential subscribers first enter their email addresses on your website:

A subscription form on the website
Source: Old Navy

Then, they receive an email with a link that they must click on to confirm the address:

Confirmation email
Source: Really Good Emails

Only then their emails get to your lists.

The double opt-in process is the best way to ensure that someone really wants to receive your emails. It also helps weed out fake or inactive email addresses, resulting in a higher-quality database.

Also, keep your lists clean and remove people who have unsubscribed or whose emails have bounced. Monitor engagement and remove recipients who never open your emails or click any links. For example, if someone on your email list is not responding to your company’s messages, you can try sending a win-back email. This is your last chance to get them to engage with your company before you remove them from the list.

Here’s an example of a good win-back email:

Skillshare win-back email
Source: Really Good Emails

Avoid spammy subject lines

Some marketers write subject lines that are misleading to get people to open their emails. This can result in the email going to spam. To avoid this, create attention-grabbing subject lines that are truthful. Some examples of misleading subject lines from spam emails include promises of money or confirmations of orders that the subscriber never made:

Misleading subject lines in emails from spam folder
Source: CM Group

You can still be honest while writing attractive email subject lines. You can use humor, tease a discount that is available, or make the subject line personalized to get the attention you want.

At Selzy, we have a recommendation system that checks emails for spam trigger words. This will help you identify which words are likely to cause problems and suggest that you leave them out of your messages. While it may not be possible to completely eliminate all spam-triggering words, using fewer of them is a good idea.

Authenticate with SPF, DKIM, DMARC, and BIMI

Email spam is often caused by a lack of proper email authentication. This can be done by using technologies that verify the sender’s identity, making it more likely that spam filters will trust the email. The most common methods for doing this are DKIM, SPF, and DMARC. BIMI can also be used to help identify legitimate emails from a particular sender.

To set up your domain to manage each authentication method, you need access to the DNS settings (Domain Name System) through your domain registration service. Once you access the DNS settings, you can add various TXT and CNAME records to your domain.

Follow the laws governing email marketing

When sending commercial emails, be aware of the variety of international laws like CAN-SPAM in the United States and CASL in Canada. GDPR is another European legislation that deals with protecting customer data privacy. All of these laws are meant to safeguard people’s information and keep their privacy intact.

These laws outline certain practices that marketers must use to avoid penalties. For example, the CAN-SPAM Act makes it illegal to include false or misleading information in the header of an email or to have a deceptive subject line. It also says that unsolicited commercial emails must be labeled as advertising and that people who receive them must be able to opt out of getting any more in the future.

CAN-SPAM Act Requirements
Source: FTC

Failure to comply with the CAN-SPAM Act and violations of rights under the GDPR in email marketing can result in harsh penalties. In addition to the CAN-SPAM Act and GDPR, be sure to familiarize yourself with the regulations of your country and those of your recipients to avoid any legal issues.

Avoid deny lists and always monitor your reputation

To stop your emails from going to junk, avoid being put on a deny list. A deny list is basically a blacklist that can keep certain people or domains from receiving your emails. If you’re on a deny list, it’s likely because you’ve been flagged for spamming in the past.

There are three measures you can take to reduce the likelihood of being blacklisted:

  • Confirming opt-ins means that you only send emails to people who have explicitly requested to receive them.
  • Validating addresses in real-time ensures that you are only sending messages to active and valid email addresses.
  • Sunsetting involves removing inactive recipients from your list after a certain period of time. This helps to keep your list clean and up-to-date, and it reduces the chances of messages being sent to people who are no longer interested in receiving them.

In addition to avoiding deny lists, monitor your email reputation. Your email reputation is basically how reputable you are as an email sender.

If you’re worried that your IP address or email domain might be blacklisted, there are a few ways to check:

  • Searching popular blacklist databases like Spamhaus, Spamcop, and SORbS is a good place to start.
  • You can also check your email server’s IP address and domain reputation score through online tools like Mxtoolbox or SenderScore.

Regularly send emails to your subscribers

If you don’t email your subscribers regularly, they may unsubscribe and forget about you. To prevent this, try to email them valuable content on a regular basis. If you can only do it once a week or even less, that’s fine and depends on your goals, but make sure to be consistent. This way, your subscribers will know when to expect an email from you and be more likely to open it. Email services also view irregular email sendings as suspicious.

Another way to provide value to your subscribers is by timing your emails so that they arrive when the subscriber is most likely to read them. This could be first thing in the morning or during their lunch break, for example. By considering the best time to send emails when your subscribers are likely to read your emails, you can increase the chances that they’ll actually open and read them.

Send relevant content

Sending content that is relevant and interesting to your recipients is crucial. This means being intentional about your sending practices and not just sending for the sake of sending. Without purpose, your engagement will suffer, which is the last thing you want. The emails you send should have meaning for your readers.

To deliver valuable content, give your readers more control over their subscriptions. You can do this by adding options to your subscription form that allow new subscribers to choose what products they are most interested in and what type of emails (guides, tips, news, etc.) they would like to receive.

Preference email example
Source: Really Good Emails

Proofread your emails

If you occasionally make a typo, it’s not a big deal. But if your emails are full of them, it could make spam filters suspicious. To avoid this problem, proofread your emails carefully or ask someone else to do it for you. You can also use a program like Grammarly to catch basic grammar mistakes. By taking these steps, you can help ensure that your emails don’t get flagged as spam because of bad grammar.

Monitor your email engagement metrics

Email providers like Yahoo, Hotmail, and Gmail use engagement tracking to help detect and filter spam. They look at metrics like your open rate, click-through rate, and spam complaints to determine whether your messages should go to spam for that user. If a lot of users don’t open, click, or reply to your messages, then it is likely that the messages will go to spam. The more users that react this way, the worse things get overall.

This is why it’s important to pay attention to your email engagement metrics and make sure you’re providing valuable content that users will want to interact with.

If you use Selzy service, you get a visual report about your company’s performance, including email open rate, click-through rate, etc.


Provide reliable contact information

If you’re using the wrong sender information, such as an incorrect email address or domain name, it could cause problems for your email campaigns. Misleading your recipients with false “reply-to”, “from” and routing information can send your campaigns off course.

Spam filters use various criteria to analyze and authenticate every message to determine whether it goes in the spam folder or the inbox. Having a bad sender name will make it more likely that your messages will be flagged as spam. Bad sender names are those that include random characters, gibberish, or that just sounds suspicious.

It’s a good idea to use your name and company as the sender, for example, “Rob from Clio”.

An example of sender name in an email

You can also split-test different sender names to see what works best.

Another thing to include in the body of your email (usually in the footer) is a physical address. This is required by the FTC as part of the CAN-SPAM Act.

Physical address in email

Make it easy to unsubscribe

Provide subscribers with an easy way to unsubscribe from your email list at any time. The CAN-SPAM Act requires that every email includes an unsubscribe link, which should be simple to find and use. This allows people to end their email relationship with you if they wish.

So if you want to avoid the spam folder, make sure you include an opt-out link in every email you send like this example in an email from BBC:

Unsubscribe link example
Source: Really Good Emails

Check your emails for spam

If you’re concerned that your email might get caught by a spam filter, you can use email checking software to see how likely it is to happen.

There are three main types of email spam checking services: those provided by postmasters, validators, and email spam checkers.

  1. Postmasters provide analytics on emails that you have already sent, including how many were flagged as spam and whether there were any delivery failures. Each postmaster can only provide statistics for its own users. For example, you cannot see the results of emails sent to Outlook using the Google Postmaster.
  2. Validators help to clean up invalid addresses from a sender’s lists, which can improve their reputation and prevent future emails from being flagged as spam. For example, you can use the MailboxValidator service to check if your lists are clean.
  3. Email spam checkers can help you see which percentage of your emails are getting delivered to inboxes, spam folders, or update tabs. GlockApps is an online solution that can help you identify any potential issues with your email content that might trigger spam filters.

This report from Glockapps provides a graph that illustrates the percentage of emails that were delivered to the inbox, tabs, and spam folder for a test list. It also shows the percentage of emails that were not delivered at all, which can help you determine if your sending infrastructure is facing any issues with delivery.

GlockApps deliverability tab
Source: G-Lock Software

SendForensics provides one of the most detailed reports available. In addition to traditional indicators (deliverability, email authentication, content errors), you can also see whether the mailing is GDPR compliant and how it will appear on different platforms. The results of the free test are shown below.

SendForensics report


If you’re having trouble getting your emails delivered to recipients, it might be because you’re triggering spam filters. Some common reasons for this include:

  • Buying email lists and sending messages without permission
  • Inaccurate sender information
  • Using spammy words
  • Including large images with minimal text
  • Not using the unsubscribe links
  • Errors in the email content

If you’re worried that your email might end up in someone’s spam folder, there are some things you can do to reduce the chance of that happening.

  1. Make sure your email content is valuable and relevant to your subscribers and try to email them on a regular basis. Email list segmentation also helps to reduce the number of emails that are marked as spam.
  2. Don’t include false or misleading information in the header of an email and have a clear subject line.
  3. Be sure to include accurate and up-to-date contact information in your emails, like your email address and physical address.
  4. Proofread your emails carefully to avoid any typos or grammatical errors.
  5. Include an unsubscribe link so people can easily opt out of receiving future emails from you.
  6. Monitor your email reputation by searching popular blacklist databases or checking your email server’s IP address and domain-associated sending score.
  7. Make sure you follow the law when sending commercial emails, in order to avoid penalties.
  8. Use an email checking tool to see how likely it is that your email will be filtered as spam.
  9. Check the most common spam email examples to know how to avoid and identify them.

As long as you adhere to the aforementioned best practices, your emails should go straight to your subscribers’ inboxes instead of being buried in their junk mail.

05 June, 2022
Article by
Irene Dmitrieva
As a marketing copywriter, I have experience creating compelling content for websites and social media posts. My background in market research helps me ensure that my copy is both on-brand and data-driven. I am excited to bring my skills and experience to Selzy team and help drive success for this company.
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